Some Things Need to Stop, Others Need to be Done

I haven’t blogged in a while, but I am back.

I am here to tell you about something that is bothering me in a way nothing else has ever bothered me before.

We are living in a world where women are constantly objectified, catcalled, beaten and harmed, treated like a second-class species, and regarded as projects that need to be enhanced.

Young teenage girls look up to people like Kylie Jenner who, even if she denies it, has underwent more than 5 plastic surgeries to look the way she looks now. They think that thick and full lips, wide hips, big butt, long eyelashes, and an extremely flat stomach are the correct idea of beauty. Yes, Kylie was able to build her own empire at only 19, but she’s far from a natural. Millions of people are going through plastic surgery to meet the idea of “a perfect face”, when in reality, all they did was turn into dolls full of silicon. Looking up the “baddies” of Twitter and idolizing models/TV icons are pushing young girls to hate their bodies and their appearance and thus creating depression and anxiety when they fail to reach the standards of beauty. Girls don’t want their thighs to touch, don’t want their butts to be flat, don’t want to be flat-chested, don’t want to have stretch marks etc. What they see on Instagram is in reality the outcome of time spent on Photoshop to perfectionate the model. People don’t actually look like that. What’s funny is that girls I know always complained about having natural wide hips, when the idol of many (Kylie) had a surgery to have that body shape.

Moreover, I traveled recently and everywhere I went, it was as if girls and young women wore pretty much nothing. Cropped tops look like bras, and shorts are so short you would think girls are walking in their underwear. The questions I ask myself are why would they expose themselves like that? Is that considered “eye candy”? Do young girls feel better about themselves and how they attract people’s attention that way? I don’t understand. What happened to elegance?

Don’t start barking at me with all your “she can wear whatever the fuck she wants” bullshit. Elegance is my standard, and I wouldn’t allow my daughter or even my sister to walk in the streets wearing clothes that look like underwear. This isn’t about feminism, or women’s rights, or I don’t know what other shit people use as an excuse. This is about self-respect. My body is not an object for display. A woman’s body isn’t eye candy. The only things that should catch a man’s attention should be the way a woman treats others, respects others and herself, how she thinks, how she tackles a problem, and how elegant she is. However, this is only my point of view on the subject. But if a young woman wants to wear these revealing outfits, she should not be objectified, and it shouldn’t be an excuse for anyone to attack or harrass this young woman.

HONY

HONYCAP

“YOU DON’T HAVE TO SHOW SKIN TO GET ATTENTION.”

Now, onto advertisements. I’ll start off by showing you these two videos.

It’s disgusting to see and know that women’s bodies are used as advertising material to sell products. What’s worse is that it is not just found in advertisements, but also in video games (as shown in the first video). The graphics used in video games are highly powerful and portray an image of women that is not technically appealing. Video games also give many male gamers a chance to approach the female character in the game in many sexual ways. Night clubs in video games also have strippers in them, so you can clearly see where this is going.

What’s even worse is that kids everywhere are seeing these advertisements. I’ve come across the idea of the effect of seeing naked women and pornography on children in two books. In the first book, Love Won Out by John and Anne Paulk, Anne tells readers that she had found pornography magazines in her friend’s house and seeing the women, in their very unappealing positions, terrified and scarred her. These images made her feel ashamed of being a woman and were one of the few factors that pushed her to become homosexual. In the second book, A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini, Mariam, who was married at a young age to a man older than she is, found a pornography magazine in her husband’s drawer. Again, she was scared and disgusted by the women in the magazine. I’ll show you a third video about kids’ reactions to seeing disturbing ads.

Credits: WomenNotObjects

I think the video says enough. We should protect our little ones, before protecting ourselves.

Furthermore, I would like to talk about a phenomenon observed in my country. My country has welcomed many refugees in the past years and there have been a few incidents ever since. Because of these incidents, girls are afraid of walking in the streets. And it’s not just because of refugees, but men in general. It is highly uncomfortable to walk in the streets and to be looked at as if you were a cookie. No, not all men are uncontrollable, bad, trash or harmful. But what I’m trying to say is that the existence of street harassment cannot be denied. Phrases like “Hi ya helwe” (Hello, gorgeous), “Shou hayda, shou hayda!” (their way to say “hot damn”) are quite often heard in public areas, and the number of girls who are uncomfortable walking in the streets or taking a taxi is increasing. Street harassment needs to stop, and that is by educating our younger ones about respect.

Catcallslippery slope of street harassment

Street harassment has many forms, and until the issue is resolved, the only thing we can do is raise awareness.

Also, There is a project known as the KIP Project on Gender and Sexuality  that tackles the issue of street harassment, and when it comes to my country’s case, the following video was done (it’s in Arabic): https://www.facebook.com/theKIPproject/videos/1782181905406104/

The following video encourages the community to stop street harassment through the use of the hashtag #مش_بسيطة (#ItsNotOkay) and by making powerful campaigns. Thankfully, many non-governmental organizations have succeeded in defending women’s rights in my country and in others, so there’s a lot of faith in the KIP Project.

Read full article: http://stepfeed.com/lebanon-says-mesh-basita-to-sexual-harassment-7470?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=PagePost

Now, what I would like to do is tell you a few things.

  1. Your body is something that belongs to you. If you want to set a goal, take my advice and let your goal be HEALTHY. Not skinny, but healthy. If you want to eat, then go eat. Eat whatever you want.
  2. Your standard should be elegant, not trashy. Trust me, the fashion industry is full of classy clothes that you could wear. And if you insist on wearing whatever you find cool then I can’t really stop you.
  3. Do not respond to catcalling. Or, here’s a trick given by a 23-year-old woman: elevate the comment to your comfort level. If he says, “How are you doing, baby?”, she would say, “I’m doing very well, young man”. And if the form of harassment is a whistle or so, she’d just ignore it. (I love this article: https://www.bustle.com/articles/97065-do-you-respond-to-catcalling-23-women-reveal-how-they-reply-to-street-harassment)
  4. Do not look up to TV icons or celebrities. They enter the industry to try and look appealing and make money out of their stupid products.
  5. Protect your children by observing what they are watching and which games they are playing. Make sure everything is under your control.
  6. Encourage your loved ones to talk if they ever encounter a disturbing ad or go through something that made them uncomfortable.
  7. Love yourself. Love your curves, your bruises, your teeth, your stomach, your clothes, your hair. LOVE YOUR FLAWS.
  8. Change is good, as long as you’re not doing it for others. Yes, go through plastic surgery, not because others pointed out your crooked nose, but because you think it’s better for YOU. If you want to try a new dress style, do it. Because you WANT to, not because you HAVE to or you FEEL LIKE THEY WON’T LIKE YOU if you don’t.
  9. People who don’t like you for who you are are definitely losing an incredible person from their lives. Forget them, find people who will love your personality and your natural looks.
  10. Let a man fall in love with your mind, not just your body.

 

Now I support the WomenNotObjects campaign.

I stand up for my future.
I stand up for myself.
I stand up for my future daughter.
I stand up for my mother.
I stand up for my best friends.
I stand up for my dignity.

Stop objectifying women. Stop hurting women. Stop undermining women. Don’t talk to a woman in a disrespectful way. A woman’s place is not under your power, but in the outer world, in the revolution, in a place where she could make a difference. #WomenNotObjects

 

 

 

Advertisements

New Beginnings

We can put it all behind us.

There is no need to spend the summer miserable, thinking of what we could’ve done. There is no need to remember all the tears that have been wasted on people who made us feel bad or unimportant. There is no need to remember that our high school crushes actually never liked us back. There is no need to think of all the failed tests, or all the negative attitudes of others, or all the jealousy that has been born, or all the drama that has been created over the past years.

High school is officially over. I graduated. It’s all behind me now.

I would like to thank my parents and friends for always sticking by my side and for reminding me that failure will never define who we are. They played a big part in molding me into the person I am today.

All I can hope for is a promising future, and a bright college experience.

 

Moments 

“Nick, stop!” Jane screamed as she followed Nick, who was running madly in the streets.

Nick had avoided getting hit by a car several times, but there is nothing that showed he will certainly remain alive if he continues running.

Jane ran recklessly, avoiding buildings and road signs, and tripped. 

She shrieked. She tried to stand up, but her ankle was too swollen. She cried, screamed in pain, and tried finding a way to stand up again but it was useless. She cried a little more and when she lifted her head, she saw a hand extended towards her, there to help her get up. It was Nick. 

“I can’t stand up,” she said.

“Stand on one foot. I’ll carry you.” 

He carried her all the way to the nearest bench and they both sat there. 

“I called an ambulance. They’ll take care of you,” he said.

Jane was silent. 

“Jane, I…”

“I don’t want to hear it. I’m furious. Why in the fucking world would you run like this?” 

“Jane, I was running away because it was the only way.” 

“The only way for what?” she asked.

“This might sound illogical, but it’s the only way to avoid facing my problems. I thought of running as far as I can, running away from it all. I couldn’t stand it, I was going insane.”

Jane sat there silent. 

She said, a little calm now, “Nick, you have no idea what it’s like to have to deal with something that kills you inside.”

“I think I do. All of what I’m facing right now proves that I do,” he said.

“There’s something I need to tell you…” 

“Nick,” she continued, “I…I am jealous and selfish.” 

“You? Selfish? Jealous? How does that even make sense?”
He looked surprised.

“I am fucking jealous of Rosie. I can’t handle the way she gets everyone to like her, nor the way her hair has volume in all the right places, nor the way she aces all her courses, nor the way she’s so good at everything she does, nor the way she took you away from me.”

Jane paused. Nick seemed to be puzzled.

“Woah, woah, woah,” he said, “Take me away from you? Where’s that coming from? You were always okay with me sometimes hanging out with other people.” 

“I thought I was but, Nick, I can’t stand seeing you so happy with her. What happened to Nick and Jane? The incredible duo? Our laughs? Our memories? Our late-night conversations?”

“Nothing has changed,” he continued.

“Oh, it has changed a lot. Nick, I apologized the first time for trying to pull you and Rosie apart but it is killing me inside. I can’t do anything but smile, but in reality, my heart is being torn into a million pieces.”

“I’m selfish because I want you all to myself, Nick Dawson. I don’t like it when Rosie interrupts our chats, when you talk about how much fun you two are having together. In fact, that breaks my heart.” 

“…It breaks my heart to see you so happy with someone else.” 

Nick remained silent, looked Jane in the eyes, and grabbed her hands.

“Jane, you are the most important person in my life. I would never want to make you feel unwanted or left out or replaced.”

“Well, you did.” 

“Would you let me finish? I have to remind you how special you are to me. And there’s only one way to do it…”

Nick was interrupted by the sound of thunder. The lightning blinded them for a second, and the rain started pouring heavily. 

“Looks like the universe wants to make things special,” Nick said with a smile.

“What’s happening?” 

“Grab my hand. I’m going to sweep you off your feet.” 

“You want to dance?” said Jane, “I can’t stand up.” 

“You don’t have to,” he said.

Nick immediately carried her in his arms and twirled her around about five times, and enjoyed every second her scared laugh.

He put her back on the bench, and she said, “I can’t believe you would spin me like that! Why would you do that?” 

“I want to hear you laugh. I want to hear you scream and hold me tightly because you’re afraid you’d fall. I want to hear you yell at me to put you down. I want to hear your breath as you try to calm down from all the spinning. I want you to love me again.” 

“I love you, Nick, you know that.” 

“The feeling is mutual. Now, anything else I could do for you before the ambulance gets here? It’s about time it arrives.” 

“Well, there is one thing…”

“Name it.”

“Hold me tightly, and protect me from the pouring rain. Hold my hand, and say you won’t let go, even during our darkest times. A promise for our friendship.” 

“Anything you want, milady.” 

He hugged her tightly and kissed the back of her hand. She blushed and they both admired the rain and looked at how wet their clothes got until the ambulance finally showed up. 

This One’s for You

This one’s for you; the one who is going through a tough time and is ready to give up,
The one who feels like nothing will ever go right again after making one mistake,
The one who has so much to offer the world, but remains silent and afraid of the comments and rejection of society,
The one who is silenced by fear and confusion,
The one who sees the beauty in people, even when people reveal nothing but their ugly sides,
To you.

I love you. I love your flaws and your remarkable features. I love that incredible mind of yours. You are beautiful, strong, and independent. It’s just an impossible period of time, not an impossible life.

Surround yourself with people who make you happy, do more of what brings serenity to your life, and smile more often. Happiness looks great on you, I’m sure of that. You are doing a wonderful job, and it’s only a matter of temporary stress, remember that.

Cheers.

Civil War

I joined the army because I thought that was what real men were supposed to do. Real men protect and serve. Real men defend their nation. Real men fight for their women and children. Real men don’t get hurt. Real men die and are remembered as martyrs.

Wrong.

I stepped into the base. I noticed the macho guys doing their push-ups, climbing, crawling, escaping barbed wires, and behaving like “real men”. I could feel them looking at me, mocking my skinny physique, judging me. A few seconds later, I looked forward and saw nothing else but a mountain in front of me. That mountain was known as the Sergeant. He was around 6 feet tall, with a body perhaps a hundred times more muscular than mine, if not more.

He introduced himself as Sergeant Morris. He yelled instead of speaking normally, and he spat in our faces. He had a Crucifix tattooed on this upper arm, and he repeatedly roared, “WE FIGHT IN THE NAME OF THE POWERFUL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA” and spat a little more with ever yell.

“You,” he pointed at me, “Introduce yourself, beanstalk.”

I stepped forward and opened my mouth, but couldn’t even say my name. A shivering voice finally came out, “Roger Matthews, Sir.”

He grabbed me by the shoulders, turned me around, and pushed me back to where I was first standing. The other men laughed.

I had troubles climbing the ropes, breaking free from traps, or doing anything that required physical strength. Every night I would lie in bed, bruised and scarred, praying to God and asking Him if I made the right choice. I got no answers from Him, just a remark from one of the guys in the bunk telling me to shut up. And when I whispered my prayers, I would receive a pillow as hard as concrete to the face. Last night, one of the guys undressed me while I was asleep. I can hardly figure out how he knew I was a very heavy sleeper, but he knew. I woke up the next day, without any pants on and shirtless. I shrieked. They started telling me that I was sleepwalking, and other crap of the sort. They belittled me, spat in my face, threw their dirty clothes at me, turned me into their doormat. I was despised.

I trained harder every day, cursing every second I spent in this hell, and finding new ways to run away from being “accidentally” punched in the face by one of the guys. I eventually was able to climb the rope and jump from the top of the cement wall, but I still had to master the art of holding a weapon. I hesitated at first, because I’ve always been a pacifist, you might say, but Sergeant Morris threatened to make my life even more miserable than it was at first if I don’t shoot at the target.

“WE FIGHT IN THE NAME OF THE POWERFUL UNITED STATES OF AMERICA,” he shouted again.

I shot clumsily but somehow the bullet struck the center of the target, exactly. The sergeant lifted me, suffocating me a little, called it a congratulations hug, and said that I have evolved well. He patted my shoulder. It hurt for three days.

The weeks passed by and that was when we were told that the times of safety were over. Our opponents had trespassed all of the borders. It’s time to confront the enemy.

“Roger! Leopold! Francis! Get your weapons ready!”

We ran to the tank. I didn’t know what to feel. Now began the moment of survival.

The tank was moving quickly, and all of us soldiers were being thrown from side to side inside it. None of us was able to sit still, we were all worried. The tank stopped and we all got off.

“Run for your life,” I told myself. “They hate you. I guess it’s every man for himself.” I was running madly, trying to breathe with every step I took. I found this huge rock I could hide behind, and luckily avoided being shot in the leg.

“Great, not only am I probably going to die today, but I also nearly lost a leg. It was close, Matthews. Really close,” I thought.

I ran.

I hid behind an abandoned house and tried catching my breath. That was when I saw the enemy. Without noticing, Leopold stood next to me. “What are you doing?” he said, “Shoot!” he barked in my ear.

“I can’t kill, Leopold. I just can’t!”

“Do you want to come out alive, or do you want to perish?! Shoot!”

Leopold grabbed my arm, put his hand on top of mine, and made my finger pull the trigger. The soldier was shot in the back. I couldn’t believe it…I had just killed a man. I witnessed his blood pouring out. I saw his last movement; he moved a finger. The man was dead. I had just killed a man.

Leopold carried me back to the tank, shouted something about me to Sergeant Morris, and joined the battlefield again. Sergeant Morris reprehended me, but I didn’t listen; I was traumatized. I had just killed a man who, like me, was in the army to defend his nation, to be a real man.

We fought for months, barely making it out alive every day. As the war came to an end, it was clear that few were the men who remained alive. I was running recklessly, but the enemy shot me. I was shot in the head. The last thing I saw was Leopold crying.

Look, God. The war is over, but he didn’t taste victory. He fought for his country. He protected and served. He could have helped his country by becoming a writer, but no. He died during the war but, sadly, he was not really remembered.

Hey, America, is he a real man to you?

 

Inspired by the movie Hacksaw Ridge.

Confessions

Nick and I were invited to a birthday party the other night, and we were the last two people to leave. Even the girl whose birthday it was had left. It was 1AM, can you blame her? After all, she did get surprised big time that night.

We held the birthday surprise at one of our hangouts, The Lonely Corner. If you saw how crowded it always is, you’d think the name was pretty ironic. Anyway, behind The Lonely Corner lied a swing set. Nick was like, “Hey! I haven’t sat on a swing in ages. Look, I’m 10 again.” I sat on the swing right next to his and acted a little childlike myself.

Nick stopped swinging. He saw me rubbing my hands together and blowing some hot air into my palms, trying to feel warm. Before I knew it, he took off his jacket and covered my shoulders.

“No, Nick, now you will feel cold and I don’t want you to get sic-” I said, a little aggressively.

He insisted I wear it, and that was when he looked straight into my eyes. He smiled.

“You know what’s funny?” I said. “I never noticed that little twinkle in your eyes.”

“Well, you have beautiful eyes too… and they talk to me.”

“And what are they saying?”

“That I looked absolutely hot tonight,” he said, and we both burst out laughing. He then continued saying, “I don’t always tell you this, but when I want to, I don’t get the chance to do so.”

I shrugged.

“You know how we’ll be off to college soon? Yeah, well, among all the people that I could possibly stop talking to in the future, or all the people that I might let go of, I pray you’ll never be one of them.”

A smile was drawn on my face. I couldn’t believe what I was just told. You probably are wondering why I was so stunned, considering Nick and I were best friends and all, but what you don’t know is that Nick and I had had a huge argument a month ago, and made up after tons of apology attempts. You didn’t know about this simply because we didn’t tell anyone.

“I feel the same way,” I finally uttered.

Nick started blowing hot air into his palms. “Told you you’d feel cold,” I said, “My hands are warm now, hand me yours.”

I grabbed his frozen fingers and I could see he felt better. I looked at him firmly, and said, “Tell me something. Anything.”

“I love you.”

“Tell me something I don’t know.”

“Okay. I’ve been having a great time lately. Everything’s been going great; my football team won the finals, my grades are outstanding, and I have healthy relationships with everyone. I’m happy.”

I looked down, and bit my lip. Then I contemplated Nick’s face attentively. “How do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“How are you so good at everything you do? How do you maintain strong connections with everyone at all times? How do you not stress out all the time? How do you do it?

“Alright, fine. I want to tell you something I don’t usually talk about. The truth is I don’t know if I’m ready to go to New York for college. I’m scared, Jane. I don’t know how I’ll handle a long-distance relationship with Rosie. I don’t know how I’ll keep in touch with my parents all the time. I don’t know how I’ll handle being in New York while you’re here in Chicago.”

I grinned again.

“And who says I don’t stress out?” he continued. “I’m at the top level of stressing out right now. Oh, and one more thing: it’s important to keep in mind that the most essential thing is to be someone good, someone passionate, someone loyal, someone determined, and someone who loves. It’s hard, but I manage.”

“My best friend is so wise.” I said with a cheeky smile.

“I’m wise and am the way I am because my best friend always motivated me to be the best I can be. Because my best friend told me about a quadrillion times that life doesn’t stop at failure. Because my best friend was awesome to me, and I wanted to be like her to other people.”

“You wanted to be like me? But I’ve always wanted to be like you!”

“Yes, Jane. You’ve had a great impact on my life. You don’t know how many problems I had before we met. My parents were trying to help, but you made things right again.”

And at this moment, we stopped talking, started swinging again, looked at each other and laughed…and that was when we saw car lights. Our moms were here to pick us up.

“Bye, Nick.”

“Bye, Jane.”

“And…Nick? Promise me we’ll always push each other to do our best, and that no matter what happens, no matter where we end up in college, no matter in which country life puts us in, we’ll always talk.”

“I promise. I love you.” He turned around and headed towards the car.

“I love you way more,” I whispered as I watched him walk away.

Little Random Post

I have to be honest and say that I don’t really know where I’m going with this post. Let’s see…

My 15 years in school are practically over. I graduate this year. MOMMA, I’M GRADUATING HIGH SCHOOL IN A FEW MONTHS! 

Okay now that I let that out, I would like to confess that the idea of “the future” scares me. My dad says to live day-by-day and not to worry about the future but guess who finds that impossible

I can’t help but think of how I’m about to jump from one phase of life into another without going through a sort of try-living-on-your-own-for-a-few-months experience. I don’t know. I mean for the first 18-to-20 years of your life everything you want is taken care of by your parents and you’re still their little baby and suddenly woop! You’re off to college. You’re now an adult and you’re supposed to handle your life, stress, studies and problems all by yourself. Cool.

I’m applying for a major in biology. Many have asked if by “biology” I meant “pre-med biology” and one can clearly see that they lost interest the second I said no. I have repeatedly received comments such as “PURE BIOLOGY? Then what? Teaching career?”
In fact, yes. I’m aiming for a PhD. Soon, you’ll be calling me “professor”.

However, even if I know that I’m passionate about biology and that I find pleasure in studying it, I still have some doubts. Is it really what I want?

***

Another thing that I’d like to talk about is something regarding school in general. Listen, kids. High school is tough. You will  face competition, you will have emotional breakdowns because of grades, you will face a stress that will sometimes lead to failure, you will go through sleepless nights, you will get heartbroken, you will face disappointments, and you will meet new people and let go of the ones you thought will always stay by your side. But if there’s something I have learned from high school, it’s that grades will never define how smart you are. Perhaps in middle school you never fought for your grades, and maybe other people’s results didn’t mean to you when you were younger. Everything was fine. You did your best and that seemed enough. Now you realized that other people’s achievements do affect you, and that you are indeed fighting for your grades, but guess what? You’re not the only one going through this. In middle school, teachers and administration members push you to do your best so that you can make it to and through high school. However, ever since you start your sophomore year, every teacher starts following you, telling you that you have to excel in everything, enroll in extracurricular activities and all that bullshit because if you don’t, university X won’t accept you.

We all want to get into the best universities. I know that from myself. But I think that school shouldn’t push you to do this and that. The school’s job is to guide you in order for you to choose the university that is best for you and whatever major you want. I think that, in the end, it’s all a matter of reputation. You know, a way for administration members to brag and say “yeah well we have a student, X, who studies at Harvard” and “Yes, our students are going to the American University of Beirut”.

Well, I think I made a point. I’d like to wrap everything up by thanking my parents because they never made a big deal out of a certain bad grade since they know that I’m doing my best, my best friends with whom I grew up because they’ve always had my back, the people I’ve met recently (a few years back) because they have been wonderful, and finally, God, because He always listened to my prayers and eased my pain.

Let this be a lesson to you: do your absolute best, all the time. If you succeed, you’re on the right track. If you fail, try again. Don’t let one, two, or even eight bad grades get you down, because life is about much more than academic results. And finally, the stress you will face is only temporary. When you’re down, always try finding a reason to smile. Stay positive, stay determined, and keep blogging.